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Calling shovetheholly and other gardeners! Help!

(141 Posts)
SkodaLabia Sat 19-Mar-16 14:36:58

I have a very weirdly shaped garden. I've posted about it before but since then it's got weirder thanks to the discovery of a second patio under a deck that we recently removed.
I'm at a loss as to how to work with the shape. It's short and wide and faces due West.

I really want more privacy, and anything that could help to minimise the noise from a busy road, but at the moment dealing with the shape has me defeated!

SkodaLabia Sat 04-Mar-17 15:39:27

I'm bumping this for help now spring is coming! I'm considering a circular lawn with a quarter missing where the patio is. What do you think?

JT05 Sat 04-Mar-17 17:31:47

You haven't put any dimensions on your drawing, so scale is difficult. Do you want a veg patch? A children's play area? A Lawn?

If I'm reading right the side where the road is faces north. I'd put a couple of small trees along that side to deflect the traffic. Underneath I'd plant some low growing, dry shade plants.
Along the wall I'd train some climbers, preferably ones with a scent. Jasmine for example. Depending on how high the overlooking is, I'd use strategically placed tall plants and bushes to create privacy.
Don't know how helpful I've been, but soon some others will be along with different suggestions. 😊

AstrantiaMajor Sat 04-Mar-17 18:46:41

How much is your budget. I have surrounded my garden very tall Jackson's trellis to give me privacy. It reaches just under 9 feet Alternatively noise could be lessened slightly by bamboo which will also provide screening. Are you keeping all the patio areas. I assume you get evening sun as you are west facing.

In the gloomy corner I might create a stumpery, and an insect friendly garden. Large Rocks and lumps wood, ferns and some shade loving heathers and bulbs will attract bees and bugs. Even sink an old bowl in the ground to create a boggy area. The idea of a circularmor peanut shaped lawn sounds good.

On the south Side, tall shrubs and trees will give privacy. Be aware that any quick growing climber will rampage. So it will depend on how much work you want to do if you don't want a Wild garden.Things like Russian vine and parthenosis will give you seasonal cover. Conifers will give year round cover.

MaudOnceMore Sat 04-Mar-17 23:33:56

More questions. Do you enjoy gardening? How much time do you have for upkeep and pottering? Does 14" high mean there's a 14" drop down from the patios to the putative lawn? If so, you're going to need at least one step down or someone will break an ankle. What style of garden do you want? Traditional and pretty? Bold and modern? Something else?

As it's so visible from the house (assuming your garden's not 300 ft long) I would make a feature out of the wall. Is it a thing of beauty? If so, I'd go for a framework of horizontal wires and climbing roses, honeysuckle and viticella clematis (traditional and pretty option). If it isn't, I'd paint it and either have the same plants or vast tubs of tall, rustly things like black bamboo (groovy and modern). Tinkly water features are supposed to be good for disguising traffic noise.

SkodaLabia Sun 05-Mar-17 10:10:36

Sorry, I've missed all the important details off! grin

I posted about this a while ago, before we discovered the odd shaped patio underneath the deck.

The top of the picture is west. The wall has trellis on the top, so it's a total of about 7 feet high. The fence on the right side of the pic is the standard 6 foot garden fence. The fence on the left side is about 8 feet tall, so we don't need to worry about being seen.

Dimensions are:
Approx 7 m from the house to the wall at the top of the pic, and approx 9.5m across. So it's annoyingly shorter than it is wide. It's also at least a metre lower than the house, hence the steps down.

I think I need a lawn, it's a house on a new build type estate and people expect lawns, so I don't want to do anything that will be bad for resale value. I also quite like mowing. blush

My question is how to deal with the shape. I have quite a few plants already, but I've realised I've made the rookie mistake of having too many different things.

I like gardening. It's a coastal area that can be really windy, so some things just don't grow.

ChuckDaffodils Sun 05-Mar-17 10:18:03

What are you going to use the space for? Who is going to be using the space?

SkodaLabia Sun 05-Mar-17 11:40:48

Patio for BBQs, grass for the odd picnic I suppose. DD doesn't play football, and we don't have a dog.

AstrantiaMajor Sun 05-Mar-17 12:25:45

Maybe treat it as 2 separate gardens. Square of the area in front of the single door for lawn and flower beds. Then the other odd shaped area make into a play area. With wooden and rubber climbing areas, sand, swings or age appropriate actitivites for DD. If you make a wiggly path of the same material around the lawn and play area it could tie it in together.
Jungle type planting would look good for DD to create hiding places. Maybe camaflague netting hung between tall trees for seclusion, a wooden fort/play house or a hard area for a tent.

MaudOnceMore Sun 05-Mar-17 12:28:08

I don't think you need to fret about the shape. One trick for wide gardens is to have a snaking path from front to back, so your eye isn't immediately drawn to the back, so that might be an option if you configure the lawn different. Also put focal points such as trees at midpoints.

I agree with the suggestion of making some kind of focal point in the gloomy corner. I'd go with a silver birch underplanted with woodlandy things such as pulmonaria.

shovetheholly Sun 05-Mar-17 17:08:29

<waves frantically at skoda> Remind me roughly where you are in the country?

I think I remember your pictures! The thing that jumps out at me is that busy road, and your desire for some acoustic screening. I think you can the area marked 'gloomy corner' with large shade-loving plants to create a kind of plant barrier that will stop at least some of the noise from the road being such an issue. I'm thinking something like a group of betula jacquemontii (if space allows, a single one if not) with underplanting of evergreen ferns and hostas and spring bulbs.

It makes little sense to me to have the seating area on that side of the garden where the patio currently is because it's a. close to traffic and b. north-facing (if I haven't got my compass points mixed up). Surely it would make more sense to sit over the other side of the garden, where it is sunnier and less noisy? I wonder if you could do something like a pergola over the patio that is outside the double doors, which would give you more sound insulation (the downside might be that it might cut out a bit of light, so swings and roundabouts). Climbers on the fence will also reduce sound transfer.

I think I'd be tempted to create some more sunny beds with flowers around the right-hand side of the garden that mix a couple of strategically-placed tall things to screen you from overlooking windows with some medium-height planting and ground cover. The trick here is really to ensure that you don't cut out too much sun, while giving yourself some cover. (Total privacy can be bought at too high a price if it involves plunging your house into cave-like darkness).

You could soften down the gravel by planting some pockets of rock-dwelling plants in there! (Or installing an alpine trough).

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 07:45:14

Hello holly! You drew this lovely picture, but that was before we found the Weird Patio and I'm not sure it would work now. I've got a very manky self-sown lawn at the moment that is rectangular, but it looks really wonky because the wall at the top of the pic is not parallel to the house. That's why I've returned to the idea of the circular lawn.

The bit where you've put larger shrubs and the path, I was wondering about a curved gravel bed there with grasses and stuff like sea holly. Then the bed by the right hand fence with perhaps a few more grasses but more stuff like Verbena and some fence climbers, and perhaps a Ceanothus, I love those.

We have to keep the patio where it is as it's built in and raised, so not just a question of moving a few flags. I've kind of got used to the road noise now we've lived here a bit. It gets loads of sun from lunchtime onwards as it's west facing. We are in the north west.

At the moment we have a winter flowering cherry in the gloomy corner, it seems to get enough light as it's taller than the trellis fence on the wall at the top of the pic so it gets lots of sun in the afternoon. I do like a white stem birch though, so if they cope with shade better perhaps I should move the cherry along a bit and put a birch in the corner? I have a rowan in the top right corner, in the hope it will grow high enough to screen the overlooking neighbours.

Thanks everyone for your input, I've gone part way down the road of making this garden and I'm trying not to waste any (more) money on mistakes!

shovetheholly Mon 06-Mar-17 08:09:53

I suspect that previous owners of the house have tried to create paths and areas outside the doors to avoid traipsing mud indoors. That would explain the peripheral layout!

A few more questions:

Remind me roughly where you are in the country and what your soil is like!

What are light levels like in the garden? I'm worried that you say that you are struggling with a lawn. It suggests that maybe a large grassed area is not such a great idea, and that's often because things are a bit shaded. However, pretty much all lawns look rather bedraggled this time of year! If it looks better in summer, that's a different matter. We need to figure out whether this is a conditions problem or just a seasonal one.

Your gravel area - is it flagstones or some kind of concrete with gravel over the top, or is it gravel over soil? I ask, because whether you can plant into it depends on the answer to that question! (If you can't plant into it, you can do pots on top of it).

Like the winter cherry & rowan plantings - just ignore me on the betula!

If you have time, take a look at this programme - it's the small garden in the new build that I'm interested in (though the story about the man with the allotment is also very sweet): It's her path and its relationship to the beds that I want you to see - even in a small space, she's managed to create a sense of a journey by opening up the planting beds and having a loosely-formed path of bark chippings. This also has the advantage of being relatively inexpensive to do compared to hard landscaping!! It's a potential alternative to a lawn if you are struggling to grow one of those (and has the advantage of no mowing!)

One thing we could do is to modify that original sketch to get rid of the lawn and make a snaky path through the entire garden, with bigger beds.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 08:34:24

Have to dash out for an hour but here's an attempt at reworking the original pic.
The scale isn't great, there would be a bit less room on the right than there looks here.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 10:15:12

Right, I've watched that programme and am rather inspired!

Not all these things go together, so I'll need to edit this, but things I like:

lighting in trees
coastal style planting
prairie style planting
woodland style planting
lots of plants, I love greenery everywhere
planting for wildlife
wood chippings

We'll need to keep some lawn, but it doesn't have to be big.

Here is what I have already, you can see it's too bitty and needs bringing together. I'm happy to ditch whatever's not helpful

Winter cherry
5 x small buddleia
10 x grasses of various sorts
3 x acanthus mollis
several self seeded foxgloves
3 x fatsia
1 x tetrapanax rex (a bit of an impulse purchase!)
several rosemary and thyme
loads of allium bulbs all popping up now
2 x climbing hydrangea on the wall on the left of the pic
a jasmine and a honeysuckle on the south facing fence on the right

Would using one material like either gravel or wood chippings help to unify the damp corner with the dry sunny side? I know there are very few plants that will grow in both areas.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 10:56:44

What do you think of this? I love the idea of a tree by the patio. The trees I have are still young, only about 2.4m tall so still moveable.

Not sure if I have too many different types of plants on the go here, hence trying to get the two borders around the lawn to have similar stock.

shovetheholly Mon 06-Mar-17 11:13:04

Oooh, now this is really coming on! I like your idea of making a tree more central. Can you give us a sense of scale? I think it would really help. Also, where are your windows in the house? Because we want this to look good from all angles.

Glad the programme helped! I think one question is: do you need the lawn at all? You could do a kind of wibbly path set around a real feature tree (I'd move it more into the middle of the garden) with lovely deep beds either side. I'll try and post a picture of how this might look when my phone is charged - it's pretty close to how you're thinking.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 11:57:18

Right, the garden is about 9.5m side to side, and about 7 front to back, so not huge.

I've really taken on board the idea of keeping the planting simple, with one idea. I very much like the idea of a tree beside the patio as I love the idea of foliage above and around.

There are glass patio doors leading down out onto the patio, the kitchen window is by where the dwarf apple is at the bottom of the picture, and there is a glass door at the top of the steps on the right.

The floor level of the house is about 1m above the patio, which is in turn about 40cm above the garden level. This is why we can't do a pergola on the patio, the top of the patio doors is too high in comparison to the patio surface.

I'm nervous about getting rid of the lawn, as I've seen on other threads how people buying family sized homes really like them. DD is above the age of a paddling pool, but I think there's something nice about being able to sit on a blanket on a lawn (ideally under a tree).

I LOVE multi stem birch, and also anything with interesting bark. I think Rowans are actually rather boring, so not convinced that should go in the middle of the garden, maybe a birch or flowering cherry?

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 11:59:14

I should also say, the dining table is in the corner of the kitchen/diner where the patio doors are, so when at the table we face diagonally across the garden from bottom left to top right of the pic.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 15:47:52

Here are two pictures that are making me happy. Perhaps this is an argument for moving the winter cherry into the middle and putting a birch in the shady corner.

I do actually have a fan palm like the ones in the second picture, it's currently in a pot but I could transfer it.

shovetheholly Mon 06-Mar-17 16:00:13

Ahhhh, that viewing angle changes things a bit for me. It means the garden should really have a strong angle that way.

What about an elliptical lawn, with steps wrapping around the corner of the patio? It strikes me that it might be nice to have a scented bed of stuff under the kitchen window, perhaps with some herbs in it? I think you're right the rotary airer needs to be on the RHS to get the sun - it's worth having one you can remove and shove into the shed when you're not using. I also think it might be nice for you to have a proper seating area, perhaps in the far corner? Will post a pic in a second.

shovetheholly Mon 06-Mar-17 16:03:04

OK, this is really rough - apologies! Busy day and my neighbours are currently having a row with their daughter at full volume so I can't hear myself think!

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 16:41:19

Your neighbours are very inconsiderate, don't they realise I have a garden to think about!

Thanks so much for taking the time to do a pic. The problem with steps around the patio is that we've just put trellis around it, to make it a defined area for sitting. The top right hand corner of the pic is on a slope, so it's not very practical to sit there unless it's just a chair and small table, we'd have to get it levelled to make a seating area big enough for several people.

I haven't explained the patio very well I think. It could be a gorgeous courtyard type affair, as the wall on the left of the pic is about 10 feet high and rendered, and it gets loads of sun in the afternoon. I'm thinking of either taking out a patio slab and seeing if I can grow a climber up it, or doing something with shelves. Plus loads of pots on the ground surrounding the table and chairs. I want the patio to feel enclosed, not opened out, I think. Which is why I really like the idea of tall plants around it, either in the ground or in pots.

I can't read all the writing on your pic as it pixelates when I make it bigger. What have you got growing at the wall at the top? And did you go off the idea of a bark chip path?

Blimey, this is hard! I can do interiors no problem, but this garden is defeating me!

AstrantiaMajor Mon 06-Mar-17 17:13:38

I really like that lawn shape and the plan as it is evolving. I am trying to do exactly the same in my shady corners with the birches, small conifers and ferns. It is looking really bare at present but hope it will look like those images you have posted.

SkodaLabia Mon 06-Mar-17 17:24:09

Here's another go, this time bearing in mind the diagonal but adding some height round the patio. The hatched area is path.

I'd have to be convinced I could get the angles exactly right and also disguise the fact that the back wall isn't parallel to the house.

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